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From The Complete Meal: Devil Dog, The Hound of Hell (Revisited)

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Devil Dog, The Hound of Hell (Revisited)

Recounting the Horror of a Horror Classic

By Jon Sanborne

All right, let me start this off by telling you that the first time I ever saw this flick was on Channel 7’s “Late Night Movie” when I was a budding adolescent. I remember my parents were asleep, my older brother and me were downing junk food, and every time the overly serious announcer’s voice came on to say, “We now return to Devil Dog, the Hound of Hell,” we both laughed like crazy.

Okay, flash forward fifteen years or so. Haven’t thought about that dog in a long time. Me and my friend Owen are wandering the broken down abandoned piers of Williamsburg, Brooklyn (near where I now live) after work on a Friday, sharing a few beers, taking in the splendor or decay, babbling about whatever comes to mind.

Suddenly, what comes toward us but a three-legged mangy stray dog (Williamsburg is famous for its wild dogs), with grease on its fur and a cosmic black hole for one eye, which pauses several paces behind us and watches our every move. “Whoa,” says Owen. “Total devil dog!” That sets me off. I go on to excitedly describe in spotty detail this movie I’m suddenly remembering from my early adolescence, about a Doberman Pinscher (or is it a German Shepherd? Some sort of Fascist canine) possessed by the Devil, which slowly takes over this unwitting suburban family.

I sketch out the scene I recall most vividly, where Yvette Mimieux (the mother) is finally seduced, and walks up the long stairs in a flimsy negligee into the bedroom. The Satanic dog trots up behind her. What follows in a feverous jumble at best, but I remember a whole love scene played out in silhouette, with the shadow of the dog mounting a shadowed Yvette, her moaning in ecstasy, the bedroom door slowly swinging closed. “It was totally sick, man!” I finish in closing. Owen shrugs his head. “Well, I know what we’re renting tonight,” he says prophetically.

So, of course we go to the video store and Devil Dog is nowhere to be found. We settle on some lame ass action flick instead. Something where Wesley Snipes has to blow up a bunch of guys to reach his paycheck. After that is done, we join my downstairs neighbor for a few beers and some late-night channel surfing.

In the midst of this, one image grabs my attention, full of washed-out Seventies color, where Richard Crenna is fiddling with his lawn mower, while his dog dutifully looks on. Suddenly, I just KNOW. “OmiGod!” I say. “This is it! This is Devil Dog!” “No way!” Says Owen. But it is. Fifteen years later…same night of the day I happened to be talking about it, had no idea it was going to be on, out of nowhere, no shit!! Total pop-culture synchronicity.

So, we’re pretty happy now over our beers. The TV gods have obviously blessed us. Our entertainment from here out is strictly Manna. And I’m gearing my friends up for the big love scene between Yvette and Devil Dog. This is going to be the best of all. Totally sick. Wait for it. Here it comes. Yvette mounts the stairs. Devil Dog follows her. They go into the bedroom. Door swings shut. Commercial break. And that’s it! No shadow play of bestiality! No demonic love-stuff!

Owen immediately lambastes me for what is obviously the vestigial remnant of some over-active, over-heated adolescent fantasy. “Yvette Mimieux humping a dog, on national TV?! Yeah, right. That’s gonna happen. The sickness of your mind amazes me.” I feebly counter, saying, “Hey! Can I help it if my imagination is better than reality?”

But to this day, I am plagued by doubt. Was that scene ever really there? Was it strangely scissored out by the Late Night censors? Or am I really just living in the last drive-in movie screen still left open in America-namely, my own mind? Someone out there, help me!!

© 2005, Jon Sanborne.
–This article originally appeared in
The Complete Meal, Issue 2, “The Bad Movie Issue.” © 2005

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